Eat Inside a Vintage Madison, Wi., Circus

Summer is time for the family road trip! Follow Kids Activities Blog and Julie Blair and her family as they travel 8 states in 30 days for the ultimate road trip story ¦

Road Trip Across The Country With Kids

The world’s most epic game of Eye Spy can be played at Ella’s Deli, a  circus-themed eatery  in Madison, Wis.

circus deli

“It’s got a  merry-go-round,” Jim, the owner of the  apartment we rented, told me. “It’s pretty good for kids.”

As a Michigan native, I can detect a humble Midwestern understatement  when I hear one.

Sure enough, Ella’s was so spectacular that my kids will be talking about it until high school: Suspended from the ceiling are dozens of vintage tin circus-themed  toys, chirping and clacking their way  from one end of the restaurant to another.

The walls, too, were covered with tin toys: There’s a delightful singing Elvis, a balloon-headed Betty Boop perched atop a swing, a bulldog lifting a barbell.

But that’s not all.

A majority of the tables are functional shadow boxes. Ours included a  working toy train and cutaway of a doll house.

We were so busy taking everything in, we didn’t mind the wait for dinner.

The Jewish deli dishes up matzo ball soup, sauerkraut sandwiches and  a kind of pickle juice slurpee.

I tried a five-cheese cheeseburger deliciously tucked into a poppy seed bun; our manny Joel  loved his  cabbage roll-up.

For dessert, Charlotte and I split a chocolate cake made with sour cream and topped with homemade vanilla custard. (According to my friend Dana Villamagna, a Wisconsin native,  this high-fat ice cream  is specific to Wisconsin and made with, oh I don’t know, butter…)

The big kids had sundaes vaulted into antique footed dishes.

And finally, when  we were stuffed and moaning, we  exited for a ride on the wonderfully  creaky 1927 wooden carousel,j paid for in poker chips offered at the deli’s check out.

I would agree with our host’s understatement: Ella’s Deli is “pretty good for kids.”


Road Trip With Kids

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